Residents of Doonbeg, County Clare, are hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump will be returning to the village, to visit his investment – Trump International Golf Links and Hotel. Locals in the village say “he is a good guy,” and welcome the property mogul’s investment in the area.
Managing Director of the golf resort Joe Russell said it was surreal to discover on Wednesday morning that your boss is the leader of the free world. He told the Irish Independent: “I think it is a great day for Doonbeg, a great day for Clare and a great day for Ireland.”
The staff at the County Clare resort extended their congratulations to Trump. Russell said, “We had a meeting with everybody earlier this morning and, to be honest, everyone is hugely pumped up by the whole thing. Everybody is delighted for Mr Trump and, of course, for his family who were on that journey with him," Mr Russell said.
Read more: Why so many Irish Americans voted for Trump?
"Yesterday I would refer to him as 'Mr Trump', but I suppose from today I will be calling him 'Mr President.' We even knew he was going to run for the presidency a few days before he announced it in the US.
"He has that gentle side – a human side. But he is a no-nonsense kind of man. He says what he is going to do, he will engage with you, he will listen to opinions and then makes a decision. After that, he gets on with it."
Doonbeg Community Development Association chairman John O'Dea told the Irish Independent that the locals were "very excited" at what the future could hold for the village. He said “Mr Trump invested his money here and did everything with the resort he promised he would.”
Local farmer John Flanagan said, in advance of the win, that a Trump presidency “would be massive for Doonbeg. It would do for Doonbeg what Obama has done for Moneygall.”
Not everyone in Doonbeg was pleased about Trump’s success. Retired primary school teacher, James Griffin said, “Donald Trump is good for Doonbeg. I’m not too sure he would be good for the world. He has brought jobs to Doonbeg. He has done a fantastic job with the course, but I would have a lot of problems with his political ideas and I don’t think I am alone in that.
“I would have my doubts about his worth as a presidential candidate and he has some views that I wouldn’t agree with.”
Martin Kelly, a local builder, said the Republican President-elect is a “good guy.” He went on to explain that when Trump took on the Doonbeg golf resort, during the economic downturn, he took on old debts run up by the previous owners. “He is a good guy. He is positive, he is not perfect. I think he is a good trier and has a great empire built up for himself and I think he deserves to get in. He says what he means, there is no beating around the bush with him.”
He told the Irish Times that Trump is very popular in the village, which has a population of 754. Kelly continued, “Trump is employing a lot of people. He is a good guy to be honest with you. Trump has done a lot of good stuff done around here. A great company to work with. Very sound. You do the job and you get paid. There is no messing.”
The builder continued, “When the other company went out of business, Trump picked up a lot of the old debts that were lying around. He picked up the tabs. I wasn’t owed massive money and I wasn’t expecting it, but I got paid. I know one man who was owed a considerable amount of money and he got every penny. Not everyone would do that. I thought it was very nice of Trump and it cost him a lot of money.”
A local pub owner, Tommy Tubridy, held a sign up “Make America Great Again” for the Times and said he had predicted that Trump would win.
“We appreciate what he has done for us – the money he has invested and the employment he has given over the past two years. He has over €5 million spent on the course and employs over 250 people. The spin-off from that is unreal.”
“[It’s] been a very good year for the whole village and Trump has been a great help. Trump has made mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes who makes progress.”
Trump International Golf Links and Hotel isn’t the only link to the White House that Doonbeg can boast of. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has family connections to the village. Hugh McNally, the owner of Morrissey’s bar in the village. The Governor of Indiana, Pence, is a nephew of McNally’s grand aunt.
Our own Fiona McGarry was in Doonbeg today following the election result and interviewed John O Dea and Tommy Tubridy in Tubridy's Doonbeg. pic.twitter.com/VKYPazC9eO— Clare FM (@ClareFM) November 9, 2016
McNally told the Irish Examiner he had already been in touch with the Pence family to offer their congratulations. He said “We are thrilled — not just for the Pences — but for the village of Doonbeg to be associated so closely with a new President of the United States.”
Three years ago Pence visited his ancestral home, stayed at the resort and ate, on numerous occasions, at Morrissey’s.
“Mike came down to see us on two occasions with his family. They sent photos over to us of the time we spent together after they arrived back home,” said McNally.
Describing the VP-elect he said, “There are no airs and graces about him.
“You wouldn’t know he was a governor. He is absolutely normal, very chatty – a real family man.”
He added, “We might all go over to the White House when they are there.”
Here’s a short video on Doonbeg village and the resort:
Read more: A guide on moving to Ireland in case Donald Trump is elected